In fact, we were exactly like a honeymoon couple. Although I endeavored to maintain an air of practical self-assurance there was now a new shyness in her manner, an atmosphere of undefinable but very real sweetness in the relationship between us which set my heart hammering at times when I looked at her flushed cheeks and the fair hair, blown about her face, and hiding the glances which she stole timidly at me.
It was like a honeymoon departure, only with another man’s wife; and that made the sentiment more elevated and more chivalrous, for it set a seal of honour on me which must remain unbroken till the time arrived.
I wondered, as we strolled up Fifth Avenue together, how much she knew, what she remembered, and what thoughts went coursing through her head. That child-like faith of hers was marvellously sweet. It was an innocent confidence, but it was devoid of weakness. I believed that she was dimly aware that terrible things lay in the past and that she trusted to her forgetfulness as a shield to shelter not only herself but me, and would not voluntarily recall what she had forgotten.
It was necessary to buy her an outfit of clothes, and this problem worried me a good deal. I hardly knew the names of the things she required.
I believe now that I had absurd ideas as to the quantity and consistency of women’s garments. I was afraid that she would not know what to buy; but, as the morning wore away, I realized that her mental faculties were not dimmed in the least.
She observed everything, clapped her hands joyously as a child at the street sights and sounds, turned to wonder at the elevated and at the high buildings. I ventured, therefore, upon the subject that was perplexing me.
“Jacqueline,” I said, “you know that you will require an outfit of clothes before we start for your home. Not too many things, you know,” I continued cautiously, “but just enough for a journey.”
“Yes, Paul,” she answered.
“How much money shall I give you, Jacqueline?”
“Fifty dollars?” she inquired.
I gave her a hundred, and took ridiculous delight in it.
We entered a large department store, and I mustered up enough courage to address the young woman who stood behind the counter that displayed the largest assortment of women’s garments.
“I want a complete outfit for—for this lady,” I stammered. “Enough for,”—I hesitated again—“a two weeks’ journey.”
The young woman smiled in a very pleasant way, and two others, who were near enough to have overheard, turned and smiled also.
“Bermuda or Niagara Falls?” asked the young woman.
“I beg your pardon?” I inquired, conscious that my face was insufferably hot.
“If you are taking madame to Bermuda she will naturally require cooler clothing than if you are taking her to Niagara Falls,” the young woman explained, looking at me with benevolent patience. And seeing that I was wholly disconcerted she added: